Are Drillbrush Bristles Non-Scratch?

Posted by John Cittadino on

Are Drillbrush Bristles Non-Scratch?
Will Drillbrush Bristles Scratch Surfaces?

A common question we receive, typically from people new to the world of drill-powered scrubbing, is if our brushes will scratch their surfaces. Naturally, using a power tool to clean may seem a little extreme and it would be pointless if you end up ruining the surface you’re supposed to be cleaning.

Luckily, the short answer is that in the vast majority of instances, Drillbrush will NOT scratch your surfaces. Our non-scratch nylon bristles can handle porcelain, tile, hardwood, masonry, vinyl, plastic, upholstery, metal, and more!

However, just because the bristles are non-scratch doesn’t mean a Drillbrush can be used on every surface. There are several edge cases and specific scenarios where a surface is ill-suited for drill-powered scrubbing, so unlike most of our cleaning guides, today we’ll be going over what NOT to clean with a Drillbrush.

Non-Scratch Nylon Bristles

Non-Scratch Nylon Bristles

Drillbrush Medium Green non-scratch nylon bristles.

As stated above, all bristles used on Drillbrush products are made of a non-scratch nylon material. They clean the same way hand scrubbing works, by loosening surface stains so they can be easily wiped away, only much faster and with less effort as it’s backed by the power of a cordless drill.

Drillbrush bristles come in a range of stiffness from Soft to Ultra Stiff. These ratings measure how flexible the individual fibers are. For example, a Soft White brush will see less resistance to flexing to reduce resistance on delicate surfaces, while an Ultra Stiff Black brush has very little give in its bristles, allowing it to combat tougher, hard to scrub stains.

The bristles themselves achieve this without abrasives, nor are they composed of anything that would cause scratches, like metal wires in a grill brush or jeweler’s abrasive in some scouring pads.

However, there is a way for a non-scratch brush to scratch certain surfaces, and it’s the presence of pesky microparticles.

Dirt Particles

Dirt Particles

Particles, especially those that build up in rims, can cause scratches.

When cleaning, particles of dirt, grit, and grime are knocked loose for easy clean up. However, those particles can stick to bristles and act as a quasi-abrasive when traveling at drill-speeds. This is not a problem for surfaces like porcelain and vinyl as they are harder than the particles and thus resist scratching. For some extremely delicate surfaces, however, it can result in unwanted marks.

Two notable areas where Drillbrush scrubbing can result in scratches are automotive paint and chrome rims. These surfaces can pick up some particularly nasty grit, including rocks and small metallic grain, which can easily stick to the brushes. If present in the bristles while scrubbing, it can scratch the thin painted surface or knick up delicate chrome-work. This is why we explicitly state that our Soft White Home and Auto brushes are better suited for interiors, glass, and trim, rather than the paint itself.

Brush Stiffness and Surfaces

Brush Stiffness and Surfaces

From left to right: Soft White, Medium Yellow, Medium Green, Medium Blue, Stiff Red, and Ultra Stiff Black brushes.

Bristle stiffness has no effect on surface scratching. The stiffness determines how much give the bristles have when cleaning, and thus what level of mess they can scrub.

Soft brushes have a lot of give, allowing more flex and wider coverage. Medium brushes are built to handle most general purpose cleaning jobs, having just the right amount of stiffness to scrub common messes. Stiff bristles are tougher than the Mediums and can remove more stuck on stains. Lastly, the Ultra Stiff is the stiffest bristle and is used for removing tough stains like gristle.

For more info on what each stiffness does, check out our bristle stiffness guide or our color charts.

Drillbrush Ultra Stiff brushes can be used to strip loose paint, so avoid using them on delicate surfaces.

However, the Black brush has another ability; it is tough enough to remove loose paint. This is great if you have an old picnic table that needs refinishing, or a wall that could use a new coat of paint, but if your goal is to keep the paint ON the surface, avoid using the Ultra Stiff brush.

Note that this only applies to surfaces with chipped or flaking paint. Drillbrush products, particularly our soft-bristled brushes, are perfectly safe to use on painted walls and furniture.

There are also some surfaces that require a White brush be used. Embroidery and fabric surfaces with threads or stitching should be scrubbed with a softer brush at a moderate speed, as stiffer brushes may hook onto and tug at the seams.

Surfaces to Avoid

Surfaces to Avoid

Drillbrush is not meant for automotive paint, so do not replicate the actions pictured above.

Drillbrush scrub brushes are safe to use on most surfaces, but there are a few applications that should be avoided.

We recommend customers avoid using Drillbrush products on their car’s paint, as we mentioned in the section on dirt particles above. It can be frustrating for car owners, as we get a lot of messages from people looking for a faster way to wash and buff their vehicles. Sadly, Drillbrush is the not the answer in that situation, especially if you have a classic car or have invested heavily into the paint job.

The same is true for chrome rims. As we also mentioned earlier, rims can pick up a lot of brake dust, dirt, and metal filings, all of which will harm the chrome if used with a Drillbrush. However, standard plastic rims and the metal hub are safe to use a Drillbrush on.

If your bathtub is old and has chipped enamel, don't use a Drillbrush on it.

Glass etching is a method of creating designs in glass by using acid or a caustic abrasive to create a frosted appearance. It’s a popular way to add flair to windows, entryways, glassware, and shower doors, but the traditional way can be pricey. A cheaper version exists called “frost etching,” which uses a vinyl overlay to achieve a similar effect.

If you’re using a Medium Yellow brush on a shower door, make sure your door doesn’t have a frost etched pattern on it, as the vinyl is very thin and will get worn away by the brush over time. Acid etched surfaces are fine, however, as the design is worn into the glass, not placed on top of it, and thus can’t be chipped away by our brushes.

Speaking of chips, we don’t recommend using Drillbrush on chipped surfaces, such as walls with flaking paint or tubs with worn, cracked enamel as the already weak surface coating will start to come off. Though, as we covered in the bristle stiffness section, if the goal is to remove the chipped substance, our brushes are very useful for clearing it away without having to rely on a scraper.

Most shiny surfaces, like glass and acrylic, are safe to use Drillbrush on. However high gloss plastic, such as the type used on television and monitor bezels, as well as on headphones and some high end modern furniture should be avoided. Like with car paint, microparticles can cause scratches to appear on the surface if cleaned with a Drillbrush. The best course of action is to wipe high gloss plastic surfaces down with a microfiber cloth. Fortunately, most high gloss surfaces are fairly small or are on surfaces that rarely get more than dusty, so cleaning them manually is a fairly easy task.

However, while high gloss plastic is off limits, practically every other type of plastic surface, like patio furniture, kayaks, bathtubs, and children’s outdoor playsets are safe for Drillbrush use.

Outside of the previously mentioned edge cases, your Drillbrush is good to go for pretty much anything else. However, if you have a surface you’re not sure about, feel free to ask us through e-mail or by messaging us on social media.

Mind Your Speed

Mind Your Speed

By using a slower speed, you can scrub embroidery without tugging at the seams!

We always recommend using your Drillbrush at a manageable speed. Not only does it result in less splatter and a more thorough clean, some surfaces can be damaged if scrubbed too vigorously. For example, linoleum can be damaged if a brush is spun too quickly in the same spot for too long, as the heat generated by friction can melt the thin material.

It’s not common, but it is something to be careful about, though keeping your drill speed to a moderate speed is the best practice unless you’re dealing with an extremely tough stain. Learn more about drill speed in our Splatter Management video.

Scratch Free Scrubbing

Scratch Free Scrubbing

For a majority of cleaning tasks, Drillbrush is the way to go. However, there are some situations that are best left to traditional cleaning methods. As much as we would like every cleaning task to be quick, easy, and fun, we recognize that there are scenarios where high octane drill-powered cleaning action isn’t the best option, and we try our best to offer other solutions in those cases.

More often than not, though, using a Drillbrush will result in a scratch-free shine and make your cleaning chores far less daunting to do.

If you’re uncertain whether the surface you need to scrub can handle a Drillbrush or not, you can email us at or contact us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Our customer service team will answer any questions you have.
Photo of Author John Cittadino

John Cittadino | John is the lead graphic designer, script writer, and video editor for Drillbrush. John is a die-hard motorsports fan and loves storytelling and illustrating.


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